While preparing to assist Yusa with what she deems to be a “lover’s quarrel” with Maou, Suzuki Rika takes her and Suzuno to the same SFC Ashiya is investigating. He confronts Yusa when she insults Maou, and ends up telling Rika an epic, semi-fictional tale of his and Maou’s rise, fall, and impending redemption. Impressed and even a bit smitten with Ashiya and his friendship, they move to the MgRonalds, which is nearly empty despite the Sasahata Tanabata festival going on outside. After a few failed attempts to lure customers, a friend Maou made at community service delivers a bamboo tree for decorating, which along with the cute Chiho, build up the interest of the festival crowd and get MgRonalds buzzing again, further impressing Rika.
Taking place entirely within either the SFC or MgRonalds and consisting of quite a lot of sitting around talking and observing, this was a compact, no-frills, yet vibrant episode that we really enjoyed. By making the outsider Suzuki Rika the nucleus of the episode, its a way of taking stock of the lives Maou, Ashiya and Yusa have built and the people they’ve met, whom Rika, as an impartial third party, considers to be amazing, inspiring, and just the kind of passionate, driven, modest (and cute!) people she believes hanging around will enrich her life. This despite Yusa’s constant attempts to paint Maou as a villain, because let’s face it, he used to be. But as we said last week, this is a world with shades of grey, and Rika is open to hearing both sides of the story.
And Ashiya’s side is simply epic. The sprawling, dramatic story Rika tells would be impressive even if he were making shit up, but the funny thing is, he merely adapted pretty much what actually happened between him, Maou and Yusa into a form that an ordinary human like Rika could understand. He’s actually being pretty damn honest with Rika; more than even Yusa was prepared to be, and presenting his tale in a way Yusa never would have considered. He and Maou have fallen, but they’ve dusted themselves off and have gotten back on the ladder. And while it could be argued that Rika could be being a bit of a busybody, her advice for Ashiya to be proud of supporting Maou (not wallow in shame and self-pity) is proof she’s also a kind and decent person.
We especially liked that while her first impressions of Maou were less than inspiring, she seemed aware that she wasn’t catching him at his best, taking to heart the things both Ashiya and Yusa said about him. She trusted she’d see a glimmer of the former “Maou Inc.” owner eventually, and her patience pays off, in a scene where Maou raises the moral of his troops and brings in new business with his sheer will, charisma, and resourcefulness. It’s a lovely little final scene, though all the pleasantness is somewhat interrupted by some ominous purple energy coalescing outside, followed by a thousand-mile stare by Suzuno directed at Maou. To us this meant that while Rika is sold on Maou’s goodness – as we pretty much are – Suzuno still isn’t sold, and in any case has a mission to carry out.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- The blue-haired manager of SFC continues to make every female character he interacts with feel extremely uncomfortable. We’re still thinking he’s another dude from Ente Isla.
- Ashiya’s stories were accompanied by a montage of raw, hard-scratched illustrations, a nice change of art style that adds to the drama.
- This week Yusa and Suzuno were on the sidelines because of Rika, but both Ashiya the Strategist and Maou the Field General and Warlord, were in top form, doing exactly what they were always meant to do, only in a vastly different scale and setting.
- We liked Rika’s blushing upon hearing Ashiya’s tale, followed by what could be embarrassment over falling for someone who cleans another guy’s underwear :)
- We also liked how Chiho inadvertently started a commotion among the male patrons of the festival, but not instantly…word had to of the cute team member had to spread first.